At the far eastern end of Bang Rak, after the fresh market and 200 metres before the entrance to Big Buddha
T: (084) 746 9998
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If you’re looking for authentic Thai food on Ko Samui, at reasonable prices, but with a bit more atmosphere and a view better than your average roadside restaurant, then you can’t go wrong with Cafe Na.
Located right next to the fresh market just before Big Buddha, owner and chef Na has her pick of fresh ingredients. The fishing boats literally moor on her doorstep, and fruit and veggies are in abundance next door – meaning she never runs out of your favourite Thai ingredients.
From the street you’ll see an orange sign welcoming you in. Walk inside and you’ll find Na busy in the open-plan kitchen but always stopping to greet with a smile. This is a family restaurant and all will lend a hand if Na gets busy. You’ll see granny chopping veggies, and Na’s young daughter and nieces running about in the courtyard among the tables or playing with the resident kittens. It’s a great place to catch the sunset over a cheap beer or a fresh fruit shake – here they’re only 50 baht.
Most tables are set up on a covered terrace, overlooking the fishing boats. It’s most certainly not a peaceful view, but it’s an interesting and active one as longboats come and go, and occasional planes comes in to land, flying lower than you’d expect, but the runway is literally one kilometre away.
Other than a few sandwiches, all food at Cafe Na is Thai and the selection is vast. Prices are marginally higher than street food, but very reasonable considering the portions and quality, with dishes averaging 60 to 100 baht. Big steaming bowls of noodle soup go for 70 baht, spring rolls 50 baht, satays 70 baht (Na’s are particularly tender, and her peanut sauce is rich and creamy), salads average 70 baht and curries go for 80 to 100 baht. Na’s green curry is excellent, and for her chicken massaman, instead of pieces of cut chicken, she uses small whole drumsticks. Try the boiled eggs with chilli and coriander in a soya-based sauce, and the sweet and sour white snapper in a hearty mix of onion, peppers and pineapple. If you feel like something a little fancier, select fresh seafood — prawns, crabs, red and white snapper and squid for starters — charged by the kilo, and bought fresh from the market next door.
No matter what your favourite Thai dish, you’ll find it here, from hot Isaan dishes through to southern Thai curries. The spicy papaya salad is excellent.
There’s nothing fancy about Cafe Na. You get good Thai food at excellent prices in a clean environment, with a view of the fishing boats and ferry coming and going. If you go for an early dinner, afterwards be sure to walk 100 metres towards Big Buddha to watch the poi (fire dancing) show at the Fisherman’s Reggae Bar, on at 20:00 every night.
By Rosanne Turner
Last updated on 24th March, 2015.